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What is a Trauma Center?

By M.R. Anglin
Updated: May 17, 2024

A hospital that is able to care for traumatic injuries is called a trauma center. Trauma refers to an injury that is life threatening or serious in nature, for example a blow to the head. Other examples of traumatic injuries include car accidents, serious falls, and burns. Trauma centers are equipped to handle many forms of serious injuries and are equipped with a variety of specialized doctors. These things are necessary to save the lives of critically injured patients.

A trauma center can have many components. First, it has a trauma team available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These professionals have to be available at all times in order to respond to a trauma case. Patients that are resuscitated and treated within the first hour of their injury are more likely to survive and less likely to develop complications than those who aren’t. For this reason, a trauma team is imperative to a trauma center’s success.

A trauma center will also have a multidisciplinary team that is able to care for the injured patients. These professionals care for the patient after their resuscitation and initial treatment. They include nurses, doctors and therapists of various disciplines, pharmacists, as well as chaplains. A trauma center’s operating room must also be available at all times. In addition, it must also have an intensive care unit (ICU) in order to care for patients.

In addition, a trauma center has equipment useful for the diagnosis and treatment different types of trauma. It must also have a Trauma Registry. The data in this registry is used in order to track trauma patterns. It provides information useful for research and other projects. In addition, a trauma center must have educational programs aimed at trauma prevention and must also be involved in developing and improving state and regional trauma systems.

There are three levels of trauma centers that may have more or less that the criteria described above. These levels are level one, level two, and level three. Level one is the highest, most specialized type of trauma center and level three is the lowest. Generally, level one trauma centers have all the above criteria of a trauma center. Level two centers are similar but the requirements for the professionals on duty may be different. Level three centers may only have stabilizing equipment, emergency resuscitation resources, and intensive care.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Rotergirl — On Apr 24, 2014

I'm glad my area has two level one centers in fairly close proximity. It means people have access to good trauma care, even if they are hurt in a remote area. It's usually not too far from one of the centers.

By Pippinwhite — On Apr 23, 2014

Most level one trauma centers are attached to large hospitals, often teaching hospitals. Nearly all trauma centers also have helicopter pads for transfer and receiving airlifted patients.

A level one trauma center is a busy place all the time, since they often receive patients from all over the region, as well as locally.

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